Shimla: Being counted as a strategic project in response to Chinaâ€™s railway expansion in Tibet, the proposed broad gauge Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line is under consideration before the planning commission, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal disclosed here today.
The chief minister said that union minister of state for railways E Ahamed, in a communiquÃ© has revealed that the planning commission was examining the feasibility report for the proposed rail track to Leh.
Speaking about the strategic importance of the project for defending the border, he said that the proposed 498 Kms long all weather broad gauge track has been estimated to cost Rs 22,831 crore.
As the neighbouring country had constructed about half a dozen all weather railway lines in close proximity to the national border, it was a matter of great concern the connectivity to the national boundaries was deficient.
A railway line to Leh through Manali whould also open up a vast region for tourism and also generate employment avenues for large numbers, he said.
The chief minister added that the gauge conversion of the 181 Km long Pathankot-Jogindernagar rail line and its extension to Mandi was also under active consideration of the railway ministry.
The union railway ministry after conducting a survey had estimated that for electric traction of the narrow gauge line it would cost Rs 3279 crore and for diesel traction it would cost Rs 2888 crore. For extending the Pathankot-Jogindernagar line by 48 Kms to reach Mandi, the union ministry had estimated costs at Rs 130 crore, said Dhumal.